Early last month I became aware of a great event happening in my backyard which I had previously not known about. Through chance, I had a conversation with the good people at Beaver Builder and saw them talking about WordCamp Sacramento happening the next day. It had already been sold out so I was sort of bummed about that, but things worked out and within a few hours I had a free ticket because somebody else was unable to go.
The next day was going to be a fun-filled Saturday of everything WordPress and catered by delicious Chipotle. I didn’t have much to plan, but luckily the event wasn’t too big so it didn’t need much planning. I was fortunate to get to the first ever WordCamp Sacramento, and even more fortunate to get in after tickets were sold out.
I’m going to reflect back on my Tweets from the event (I live-Tweeted it all) in this article so I can create my typical permanent reflection and documentation of the event.
Opening the Event
Things started out very casual with meeting other WordPress enthusiasts in what they called the Happiness Room, sort of the central hub of the event.
After the opening remarks, there were two tracks that went on simultaneously with very different content. There was the beginner/user track which is what I stuck to for the most part and there was also the advanced/developer track which I assumed would be a bit beyond my knowledge.
The New Age Of Content : Greg Taylor
Greg started his conversation back in the good ‘ol days of blogging where you could publish content and forget about it, it just worked for you. Times have changed though and you now have to work for your content.
The three goals Greg talks about for his content are:
- Search/Subject Matter Expertise
- Creating Community
I enjoyed the questions Greg proposed. Who’s your audience? What story are you trying to tell? This question leads to the important realization that it’s not really that important :) It’s not about the story you’re trying to tell necessarily, it’s more important what story needs to be heard. It’s all about the reader and what they want, not what you want.
Greg proposes another good question which ties into that; how helpful is your content? Will it help someone do something they want to? If your content is evergreen, then it’s usually more useful. Viral content is great, but it’s just a side effect.
I always thought of WordPress as a tool prior to Greg’s talk but I realize now that it’s not, it’s a platform. WordPress does so much now, it’s sort of a foundation for all these other great things in which writing in a blog is just one tool. Podcasting is another tool he used as an example.
So what does that mean? To me it opens up the possibilities of WordPress and the way I think of it. It’s not limited to what it was built for. So prior to WooCommerce making a plugin for eCommerce, not many probably thought of WordPress as an eCommerce platform. It is that and much more, anything you want it to be really.
I also learned about Triberr which is an interesting way to get more views to your blog based on a topic. I’m glad I’m going through my Tweets now and reflecting on the day because I had forgotten about it :)
That’s it for Greg! He was a good start to the day because content is never an easy thing to figure out.
Content Design: Getting The Most From Your Content And Images : Slide Deck : Dawn Pedersen
Dawn started out making a really good point about how people on the web read. If you’re not sure how, think a bit how you read on the web. You probably don’t, you just skim.
I was fortunate enough to have a small journalist background from high school. It was a long time ago, but it was enough to stick in my head. You learn about the inverted pyramid which means the important info goes first which is meant to catch someone’s attention. When writing for the web, always do this because you want to draw people in.
Next is the details and then the background etc. are at the bottom. I see so many articles and blog posts that start with the background first and it’s a great way to lose your audience almost immediately.
Jargon – Don’t use it at all, if you must use it very little and tell us what it means, please.
Brevity – Keep it brief. No, attention spans aren’t getting shorter, it’s just that they are getting more selective for good content because there’s so much content out there.
Passive for Active – This one is easier said than done, but it’s something to work towards, Replace passive phrases with active. If you’re not sure about what that is or how to do it, do a quick Google search and you’ll surely find many great tutorials and information.
My personal favorite point to keep in mind is to limits the number of character per line. The narrower you make a column, the easier it is for your eyes to track each line which reduces the exhaustion on your eyes.
The popular app for many that came up was Hemmingway App, which I used to use but found it put up barriers to my writing. When I did use a grammar app, I much preferred Grammarly because it worked in my workflow instead of needing to take my writing out of my workflow.
My good friend Bruno Winck mentioned a good practice in writing which I may eventually pick up. Including tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) is a great way to give the “executive summary” to the reader so they can get the jest. If they find it interesting then you have something of quality and they’ll continue to read. it all.
Lessons Learned From Reviewing 30 Membership Plugins : Slide Deck : Chris Lema
Chris learned a lot in his adventure reviewing 30 membership plugins. Some of the lessons he shared were based on product development, product marketing, writing review posts, and of course the membership plugins themselves.
One lesson Chris shared was an important one for life itself. To me, the lesson in this all boils down to finding something you’re passionate about that’s unique and going at it full force. If you have passion, then nothing can stop you, and of course, you naturally become an authority on the topic :)
Back to earth with plugins. They’re cool, but they are just plugins, you want to look past that towards what you’re trying to do. He presented a good analogy which relates back to the Tootsie pop, how many clicks to their goal (how many licks to the center).
Chris made regular good points about being user-centered in everything you do. From giving back to the user all the way to marketing from the outside in. Nobody cares about all the cool tech features of your product, they just want to know if it can carry out their goals quickly and easily. Does it do what I want to do easily? If you do a good job making the information available to the user about your product, it can remove that feeling that they’re being pitched to, never a good feeling.
Nobody reads! This seems to be a recurring theme so it might be something to take into account. Back to the easy to skim, easy to find the information the “reader” is looking for and you’ll have a user-friendly website.
Payment Gateways – Ever paid with PayPal and it felt like you weren’t even paying anything? I sometimes have money sitting around in a PayPal account and it really does feel like I’m getting the product for free. Of course that’ not true, but it is one less barrier to getting someone to part from their money. Moral: if you are accepting payment for anything, make sure you accept at least PayPal.
Git Source Control: For The Rest of Us : Slide Deck : Nolan Erck
This part got a little beyond my skill because I’ve never played with any of the code (or very little at least). Most of the changes I make are in posts and have versioning in WordPress itself (pages, posts, CSS, etc.).
Nolan does explain what Git version control is though, it’s like a librarian and hall monitor. I guess that means it keeps tracks of all the revisions and makes sure they don’t run? Haha, OK maybe the hall monitor part means it keeps track of all the versions and makes sure they’re in order.
TortoiseGit is an application that helps keep track of and transfer files, that’s for Windows though. If you’re a Mac user though, there’s an app for you (also has a different Windows version available there).
Now if I could only find something to use on my Chromebook.
Using CSS3 In WordPress : Slide Deck: Suzette Franck
Suzette brought up some memories from the olden days, back in the late 90’s when GeoCities was still a thing. Some of my first websites were on GeoCities.
Things I learned about CSS that I didn’t know before:
- IDs render a split second faster than classes and can be used only 1 time per page.
- More specific rules will override less specific ones.
Awesome Plugin: Simple Custom CSS is a good plugin to edit custom CSS inside WordPress.
Ad Revenue 101 : Slide Deck : Ben Ilfeld
There are many different ways to make money through ad revenue on your blog, but it can be difficult unless you have tens of thousands of visitors a month. Often though, your audience is very targeted so you may be able to create direct relationships with an advertiser who wants to reach your audience.
Taking WordPress From Hobby To Side Job As A Freelancer : Slide Deck : Bernice “Be” Lee
WordPress has been a hobby of mine for a while. I’ve used it to build my personal website and playing around with it on occasion. That went on for several years but last year I made a bigger leap when I built my course on using WordPress to build my personal brand.
Bernice touched on one of the most common and for me prevalent barriers to freelancing. Impostor syndrome! It’s one of those things you have to realize there will always be somebody who knows more, and there will always be somebody who knows less. Get on with it and do your thing :)
Plugins Part 2: eCommerce : Alex Christensen
I thought eCommerce for WordPress was all about WooCommerce but that is very wrong as I was proven. Alex provided a nice download with a comparison chart between all the different eCommerce plugins for WooCommerce.
Wrapping It Up (And Tired)
It was a long day for me after already having a long week at work. It was time for the closing remarks and a big thanks to all those who put in a lot of effort to make the event go off without a hitch.
I had a great time and met some great people. If I do it again I might try some of the advanced track presentations because they seemed to have interesting topics even for somebody who’s only a publisher like me, not a developer.
What was your favorite part of WordCamp Sacramento?